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The difference between virtual and online NEBOSH General courses

Luke Pitt - Last Update: 21 Feb 2020


What is the difference between an online and virtual NEBOSH course?

The online NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus

How long will an online NEBOSH take?

How much does an online NEBOSH General certificate cost?

What's missing from the online course?

What will you need to take the course online?

Pick a pathway based on your learning style

Online is an independent learning experience, whereas virtual gives you live access to NEBOSH General Certificate experts.

An online NEBOSH General Certificate course, designed for distance learning, contains exactly the same content and materials as the classroom course. The key difference is you're learning on your own, without the support of an expert.

An open note book, a laptop and a cup of coffee sit on a desk

Key points:

  1. Virtual and online NEBOSH General Certificate courses are delivered differently. An online course implies a lot of self-directed learning, whereas virtual links you up with a live classroom and trainer.
  2. The virtual and online course syllabuses are identical to the classroom course.
  3. You need to think realistically about your flexibility, ability to focus and the way you learn before signing up to an online course - it's demanding and needs your full attention and commitment to pass.

What's the difference between an online and virtual NEBOSH course?

A happy young woman sits before an open laptop

The virtual NEBOSH General Certificate guides you through the course materials, live, with a trainer in a video conference. You'll get support from an online learning hub, live chat, video and slides.

If you take the online e-learning NEBOSH General Certificate course, you'll be expected to do self-directed distance learning, with support from assets in an online hub.

It's confusing because 'online' sounds like a catch-all term for learning on the internet, but that's not the case.

Read the course delivery description carefully before you sign up and if you're unsure, ask the training provider how much support you'll have from a NEBOSH-qualified trainer.


NEBOSH email template

The online NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus

The online course syllabus is identical to the classroom and virtual course. You won't miss out on any teaching materials by going online.

To give you a quick summary, the course is split into two units. The first, NG1, is the theory behind contemporary health and safety practices. It's rooted in legislation and compliance, how to manage risk, monitor and measure performance.

You'll take an overview of the subject and answer the big questions, for example, 'why should we manage workplace health and safety?' and 'what does a good health and safety management system look like?'

At the end of the course, you'll sit an exam to prove what you know.

The second unit, NG2, is a practical, hands-on approach to health and safety management. It refines your understanding of what risks various different hazards pose.

In short, you'll focus on real-world hazards and how to manage them.

For example, your colleagues' physical, psychological, musculoskeletal health, the chemical and biological agents that could cause injuries, work equipment that prevents accidents, and which appliances or areas at work could be prone to fire.

To prove you've absorbed NG2, you'll complete a practical risk assessment.

You can find out much more about the syllabus on our course content page. If you're worried about missing information by going online, don't be. The real challenge comes with the learning...

How long will an online NEBOSH course take?

A man looks at his watch while typing on a laptop

Just like the classroom course, the virtual training involves 68 hours teaching hours, 40 revision hours, plus time to do the assessments at the end. 

If you take an online NEBOSH General Certificate, it's up to you to ring-fence and manage the time.

In a virtual course, your learning time is protected. Right from the start, we set aside 10 days with an industry expert to go over the course material.

You can take them over 10 weeks, or condense them over five weeks (if you take the Fast Track course).

How much does an online learning course cost?

The classroom environment is notably a more in-depth learning experience. It rigorously prepares you for the real working world, and of course, the exam.

The classroom and virtual course usually cost around £1,000. The online course can be half that at just £500.

What's missing from the online course?

A stop sign with an illustration of a worker in a hard hat with an outreached hand

The expertise within the course - you miss real-world experience not just from your trainer, but other learners too.

The trainers walk you through NEBOSH principles and best practice, one step at a time. They're NEBOSH qualified, have many years of teaching experience and have anecdotal and experiential information that backs up the course materials.

You'll get a firm understanding of each element before moving onto the next. That gives you the best possible chance to revise the correct materials effectively and pass your exam.

What will you need to take the online course?

You need an internet connection and a smart device, plus a study plan:

  • Where will you revise and study? Make sure it's a venue you'll be comfortable in - hit the library, set up a home office, hide in your car at lunchtimes, or chill at McDonald's with your headphones on.
  • When can you cram? Write a timetable that covers the whole course and stick to it - it's a big course, don't underestimate it.
  • Is there access to support? Is there a Facebook group, a forum community or a tutor on hand to support your learning. If not, think seriously about how you'll cope when you get stuck

We've created a list of revision books and materials to help you out before you start learning.

Read our head of health and safety's revision and exam tips before you take the exam.

If you're thinking about going online because you need the qualification quickly, read about the Fast Track course - it's 0 to General Certificate in just six weeks.

Pick a pathway based on your learning style

Two men take a video call

When you work in health and safety, you can't be an island. You'll rely on your peers to invest in shared objectives to support you. You work together to improve the wider health and safety culture.

The classroom and virtual course give you access to peer support before you're even back at work. You'll rub elbows with health and safety professionals from different sectors, who you can bounce ideas off in an environment designed for learning.

If you're booking the training for your team, you're giving them the chance to learn from the challenges faced by other businesses too.

If you're learning alone, you won't get contextual stories that make the theory relevant or useful to you. An anecdote is often the simplest way to explain a complicated concept.

The most important thing is that you understand and remember the textbook jargon because the exam asks you to prove what you know. You can use your experiences to justify your working, it's purely based on fact. If you don't understand the teaching, the exam becomes an overwhelming challenge.#

More on all the ways to take the NEBOSH General.

Everything you need to know about the NEBOSH General Certificate